Posted on Mar 08, 2018, 5 p.m.
In one of the largest functional brain imaging studies conducted specific brain differences between men and women have been identified by the Amen Clinics using images provided by 9 clinics as published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.
46, 034 brain single photon emission computed tomography images provided by 9 clinics were analyzed quantifying the differences between the male and female brain. The differences identified are important for understanding the gender based risks for brain disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease. Using advanced tools such as single photon emission computed tomography images is essential to developing precision brain medicines and treatments in the future.
In this study the brains of women were observed to be significantly more active in many more areas of the brain than that of the men. Activity was especially more increased in women’s brains in the prefrontal cortex which is involved with impulse control and focus, as well as in the limbic or emotional areas of the brain which are involved with anxiety and moods. The coordination and visual centers of the brain were observed to be more active in men. Single photon emission computed tomography images were used in this study to measure blood perfusion in the brain. These SPECT images were acquired from the participants while they were performing various cognitive tasks or while they were at rest resulting in different blood flow in specific brain regions.
26,683 patients with various psychiatric conditions including mood disorders, brain trauma, ADHD, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia, as well as 119 healthy volunteers participated in this study. 128 brain regions in total were analyzed for subjects at baseline and while performing concentration tasks. The study findings showed increased prefrontal cortex blood flow in women as compared to the prefrontal cortex in men, this may go to explain why women tend to display greater strengths in the areas of collaboration, self control, empathy, appropriate concern, and intuition. Increased blood flow was also observed in the limbic areas of women’s brains which may also explain partially why women are more vulnerable to eating disorders, anxiety, insomnia, and depression.
This study was needed, and further studies are still required because obtaining a greater understanding of these differences between the genders is important as brain disorders affect men and women differently. Women are associated with significantly higher rates of Alzheimer’s disease, anxiety disorders, and depression. Men are associated with higher rates of ADHD, conduct related problems, and incarceration specifically by 1,400%. Being able to precisely define the physiological and structural basis of the gender differences in brain function will help to illuminate Alzheimer’s disease and a better understanding of our partners and/or the other gender.
Materials provided by IOS Press.
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Daniel G. Amen, Manuel Trujillo, David Keator, Derek V. Taylor, Kristen Willeumier, Somayeh Meysami, Cyrus A. Raji. Gender-Based Cerebral Perfusion Differences in 46,034 Functional Neuroimaging Scans. Journal of Alzheimer's Disease, 2017; 1 DOI: 10.3233/JAD-170432